Strengthening Ambazari Dam: NMC Takes Swift Corrective Measures

In the wake of a flash flood that wreaked havoc downstream of the Nag River nearly four months ago, the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) is swiftly implementing corrective measures to fortify the Ambazari Dam. The recent initiative is a crucial step to ensure the safety and resilience of the dam, starting with the reinforcement of its embankment.

Proactive Measures to Safeguard Ambazari Dam

A senior official from the NMC revealed that the strengthening process involves earthwork to fortify the dam’s embankment, followed by meticulous stone pitching. To address potential risks, the NMC’s garden department has initiated the felling of 79 small trees strategically positioned near the dam’s base. This decision stems from the recommendations of an expert committee, emphasizing the importance of preventing the trees from growing too large, as it could potentially compromise the embankment soil stability.

The garden department official explained that the removal of these smaller trees aims to prevent the loosening of the embankment soil. The resulting cavities left after uprooting will be promptly filled. To maintain the ecological balance, larger trees will be preserved, with the possibility of seeking assistance from the forest department if their removal becomes necessary.

Strategic Partnerships for Dam Strengthening

To execute the dam strengthening works, the State Irrigation Department has collaborated with BC Biyani Projects Pvt Ltd. The engaged firm brings expertise and efficiency to the table, emphasizing the significance of timely and effective reinforcement. An official from the NMC’s water works department mentioned, “Water from the Ambazari Lake is being released into the Nag River through a pipe,” highlighting the active steps being taken to manage water levels.

Urgency Arising from Previous Declarations

In August 2017, the director general of Design, Training, Hydrology, Research & Safety at the Maharashtra Engineering Research Institute in Nashik declared the earthen dam unsafe. Faced with the high costs involved, a decision was made to execute the dam strengthening work in three phases, prioritizing critical areas. Notably, the shed near the Vivekananda statue was the first to undergo reinforcement for 4.50 crore. A protective wall was also constructed near a temple on the lake’s south side. Unfortunately, the protection wall was initially neglected, gaining attention only after the September 23 disaster.

Overcoming Challenges: Tendering and Construction

The initiation of the dam strengthening project faced challenges, with the first tender floated on November 17 receiving no bidders. Adapting to the circumstances, the irrigation department adjusted the criteria and reissued the tender twice. Out of the five private agencies that responded, BC Biyani Projects Pvt Ltd emerged as the chosen entity for the reinforcement work. The project, with an estimated cost of Rs4.6 crore, is set to be completed within a six-month timeframe.

Holistic Approach for Sustainable Results

The proactive release of water from the lake marks the commencement of crucial steps toward constructing spillway gates. This strategic move aims to facilitate the controlled release of water, minimizing the risk of flooding. Simultaneously, a ‘rock toe’ (stone drain) is slated to be laid at the lower part of the dam, efficiently managing rainwater and wall seepage. Pits on the lake’s wall are being diligently filled to address potential concerns.

Community Concerns and NIT’s Role

In response to the flood-affected areas’ concerns, including Daga Layout, Ambazari Layout, Purohit Layout, Kasturba Layout, Yashwant Nagar, Dandige Layout, and Shankar Nagar, the Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT) has taken steps to address specific issues. Notably, the demolition of the concrete slab constructed on Nag River for parking space near NIT’s skating rink is in progress.

Community Advocacy: Widening Nag River

Residents are advocating for the widening of Nag River by demolishing walls of the Seven Wonders Park, currently being developed by MahaMetro. They emphasize the need for enhanced river width to mitigate future flood risks effectively. Additionally, there are calls for the relocation of the Vivekananda memorial statue to further ensure the safety and resilience of the area.

The Ambazari Dam strengthening project is not just a response to a recent disaster but a testament to the proactive measures taken by the NMC and associated departments. Collaborative efforts, strategic partnerships, and a holistic approach underscore the commitment to the safety and well-being of the community. As work progresses, it is evident that the focus is not only on immediate corrections but on creating sustainable solutions for the future.

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